NAB pins turnaround on improved CRM

About a year after being appointed chief executive of the National Australia Bank, Ahmed Fahour's campaign of cultural change is being boosted by improved use of the bank's Teradata customer relationship management (CRM) software package.Gerd Shenkel, who was handpicked by Fahour for the position of general manager of customer strategy and cross marketing, said the eight-year-old Teradata CRM package was now strategically linked with the bank's three-year turnaround plan.

About a year after being appointed chief executive of the National Australia Bank, Ahmed Fahour's campaign of cultural change is being boosted by improved use of the bank's Teradata customer relationship management (CRM) software package.

Gerd Shenkel, who was handpicked by Fahour for the position of general manager of customer strategy and cross marketing, said the eight-year-old Teradata CRM package was now strategically linked with the bank's three-year turnaround plan.

"In the first year of the turnaround plan...we have been taking pains to become more transparent externally and internally," Shenkel said. "It is a customer-centric strategy, and the CRM package is the tool we need to deliver that strategy."

The NAB is rebuilding and restructuring after being beset by a host of problems from January last year, when a foreign exchange rogue trading scandal cost it AU$360 million and exposed fundamental governance deficiencies. The scandal and other difficulties led to a shakeup at management and board level, extensive layoffs and a rethink of the way it engaged with customers.

According to Shenkel, who joined the bank shortly after Fahour's appointment, the plan reverses the focus on cost-cutting, which saw branch closures and staff cuts whittle away at customer goodwill.

"The environment has changed and we are seeing more investment in customer-centric capabilities like CRM technology from the other financial institutions," Shenkel said. "We already have the technology, but it has become far more tightly linked with the business strategy for the bank."

Shenkel believes the changes will enable the bank's customer relationship managers to more accurately predict when and how to offer new loans or investment packages to its existing customer base. More importantly perhaps, the CRM package is also designed to indicate when such an offer should be avoided.

CRM has become flavour of the month in the banking sector as competition for hearts, minds and accounts heats up.

Westpac has reportedly spent AU$200 million implementing its Reach CRM tool system, and the Commonwealth Bank CommSee project has reportedly cost AU$100 million. The ANZ adopted a more measured approach and expects to spend less than AU$1 million rolling out the iKnow CRM tool as an adjunct to its teller system, which is based on IBM Websphere technology.

Most recently, St George Bank adopted a Peoplesoft CRM package in August to replace an internally-developed leads management tool that had operated as part of its extensive Teradata data warehouse.